From The Bible Christian Society
Q: What does the word “apologetics” mean?
A: The word “apologetics” is derived from the ancient Greek word apologia, which means, an apology. Not an apology in the modern sense of the word - which is to say you’re sorry for something. But rather, an apology in the ancient sense of the word - which is to make a reasoned defense of something or someone. In ancient times, the word apology referred to the case a lawyer would make on behalf of his client.
Apologetics is about building the case for our Faith…learning how to explain and defend our Faith. Basically, there are 3 types of apologetics: natural apologetics, Christian apologetics, and Catholic apologetics. Natural apologetics builds the case for truths we can know from the “natural” light of reason. Truths that can be known without any divine intervention. Truths which the articles of our Faith rest upon and build upon. Truths such as the existence of God, the innate spirituality of the human soul, the objective reality of right and wrong…truths that our faith rest upon and build upon.
Christian apologetics, on the other hand, builds the case for divinely revealed truths - truths that cannot be known by reason apart from faith. Truths such as the reality of biblical miracles, the divinity of Christ, the Virgin Birth, and the Resurrection to name a few.
Catholic apologetics encompasses all of Christian apologetics - since Catholicism is the fullness of Christianity - but Catholic apologetics tends to focus on those truths of Christianity that are not generally believed by non-Catholic Christians. Truths such as: the Catholic Church having been founded directly by Jesus Christ; the papacy; the Sacraments; the Immaculate Conception, and others.
Again, the 3 main types of apologetics are: natural apologetics, Christian apologetics, and Catholic apologetics…we will be focusing mainly on Catholic apologetics - how to explain and defend the truths of our Catholic Faith.
Q: Are there any basic rules for doing apologetics?
A: We need to always keep in mind 1 Ptr 3:15 which says, “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you…” Always be prepared Scripture tells us! So, how can we “always be prepared” to make a defense of our Faith?
Rule #1: Pray. Pray to the Holy Spirit. Pray that He will give you the courage to share your Faith and the wisdom to choose your words carefully and profitably.
Rule #2: You don’t have to know everything right now! Just learn a little bit more about your Faith each and every day. Read Scripture. Read the Catechism. Listen to apologetics tapes. Read books on or by the Saints. Learn a little bit at a time.
.Rule #3: Luke 5:10, "Do not be afraid, henceforth you will be catching men. "Jesus said this to Peter, but He’s also saying it to us. Will you make mistakes? Will you get into tight spots…when you start sharing your Faith with others? Of course you will, but Peter made mistakes! He got into tight spots. Yet, Jesus told Peter not to be afraid. Why? Because if we are sincere in our desire to share the truth with others…to share Jesus Christ with others…then Jesus will find a way to make something good come out of even our mistakes.
Rule #4: Always view a question about your Faith, or even an attack on your Faith, as an opportunity - an opportunity to share the truth. Stay calm and stay determined to bring light into darkness.
Rule #5: Don’t get frustrated. Quite often Catholics get frustrated by what I call the doctrinal dance…you get asked about Purgatory, Mary, the Pope, the Sacraments all in rapid fire succession. Before you can answer one question, you’re asked another. Just keep firmly, but gently, guiding the discussion back to one topic until you’ve said all you want to say…then move on.
Rule #6: Very, very important! Never be afraid to say, “I don’t know,” when asked a question about your Faith. Don’t try to “wing it.” However, always follow, “I don’t know,” with, “But, I will find out and get back to you.” And make sure you do!
If you follow these rules, you will be prepared the next time God puts you in a position to explain and defend your Faith.